Mary Ann Kreitzer reviews the Dark Tower

What are you reading? A Book Review on The Dark Tower

The medieval tower of Glastonbury Tor is a place of myth and mystery. Today only the ruin of an earlier church, St. Michael’s tower, stands on the hill there. Archaeological evidence also shows a possible hermitage and ruins of monks’ cells. History tells us the grounds are drenched in the blood of martyrs. The last Abbot of Glastonbury Abbey, Richard Whiting, was hanged, drawn and quartered there with two of his monks, John Thorne and Roger James.

Stories link the site to the legend of King Arthur and tradition says Joseph of Arimathea visited. A more modern association, debunked by many archaeologists, relates to the Temple of the Stars, an occult theory. All of this creates the perfect mysterious atmosphere for Donal Foley’s adventure stories for teens and young adults.

Foley’s second episode of the Glaston Chronicles, The Dark Tower, continues the adventures of English teens Luke and Annie Martin and their American cousin Matt Bergin. The first book, The Secret of Glaston Tor, took them on a time-travel journey back to 1940’s Germany where they faced twisted teenager Emil Schwarzen who became their arch foe. As the second story begins, Emil has followed the cousins to Glaston Tor where they plan to enter the portal that can take them back to the future. Emil threatens them with a gun demanding they give him the secret of time travel. Escaping their adversary, they return home to the exact moment, Christmas Eve, when they first stumbled into the past chasing Annie’s little dog Toby through St. Michael’s doorway.

The transition from the first story to the second is well done. The opening scene explains what is necessary to let this second adventure stand on its own. While reading The Secret of Glaston Tor would be helpful, (I actually preferred it.since historical fiction is a favorite genre for me.) it isn’t necessary. The Dark Tower makes a coherent whole.

And so begins a new adventure for Annie, Luke, and Matt this time in the present. Foley reacquaints readers with a few figures from the earlier novel. Aunt Gwen, an elderly curmudgeon in the first story, turns out to be a kindred soul with whom the children share their story. Her pilgrimage to find the grave of her dead fiance is the motivating factor that leads the youngsters on their new quest where the three children meet Emil again. He’s a wealthy, retired old man with multiple homes around the world and a mind full of evil. (Think George Soros.) One home is a fortified castle in Switzerland where he welcomes a visit from the cousins for his own twisted reasons. There he plots and schemes using occult practices.

Foley skillfully intertwines the youngsters’ earlier adventure bringing in old characters, now grown like Professor Max Peters an expert in ancient artifacts. He also introduces interesting new characters like Peters’ son, Fr. Richard, who becomes a mentor and ally. Two of Emil’s grandchildren also play important roles in the story — one for evil, the other for good.

This is not a book for young children. It seriously addresses the dangers of dabbling in the occult and consorting with demons. As the children explore Emil’s dark world they must grow in faith, hope, and holiness. They aren’t alone as the angel from the earlier novel, Alex, reappears, but the primary spiritual assistance comes from their new friend, Fr. Richard who helps them grow in prayer.

Foley offers an exciting adventure with many perils, including a frightening final scene that illustrates the importance of the four last things: death, judgment, heaven, or hell. Young adults will likely find the book riveting.